The part of the population that isn’t an elementary teacher or the parent of a young student may see a few people dressed rather strangely Tuesday.
Don’t worry. Nobody missed a memo about Halloween coming early this year and there isn’t any costume party to which you weren’t invited.
The reason you’re seeing so many kids and adults in tall, red and white striped hats and other Dr. Seuss-inspired getups is an annual event called Read Across America, held every year on March 2 in honor of the iconic children’s book author’s birthday.
Launched in 1998 by the National Education Association (NEA) and guided by a committee of educators, NEA’s Read Across America is the nation’s largest celebration of reading. The program focuses on motivating children and teens to read through events, partnerships, and reading resources that are about everyone, for everyone- not just fans of Dr. Seuss’s silly rhymes.
Across the nation, teachers, teenagers, librarians, politicians, actors, athletes, parents, grandparents, and others participate in Read Across America activities to bring reading excitement to children of all ages. Governors, mayors, and other elected officials recognize the role reading plays in their communities with proclamations and floor statements. Athletes and actors issue reading challenges to young readers. And educators and principals seem to be more than happy to dye their hair green or be duct-taped to a wall to boost their students’ enthusiasm for reading.
Locally, many elementary schools usually host storybook character parades. Students are encouraged to dress as their favorite character from any beloved book, and they march, chant and sing in and around their school buildings to the delight of all who line up to watch.
Another popular tradition is inviting special guest readers to visit classrooms and share their favorite read-aloud with students.
Some schools arrange to have the cafeteria serve green eggs and ham on the special day or teachers have been known to prepare them in their classrooms with students’ help.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic and health and safety guidelines, these traditional activities will likely not be possible this year. But that won’t stop teachers and other reading enthusiasts from creatively adapting the day’s activities.
For those interested, NEA published a list of ideas tailored to virtual celebrations and socially distanced activities.